The Bacon & Bourbon Manhattan

As served at Delmonico Steakhouse (the Venetian) and Emeril Lagasse’s Table 10 (the Palazzo), $15

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“Other than bacon being a rumored cure for a hangover,” says mixologist Max Solano, “there is really no significant history or relationship between bacon and cocktails.” Until now. And since this is Bourbon Heritage Month, you can celebrate not only our country’s native spirit but this beverage evolution, too, by calling Delmonico/Table 10 to see if beverage manager Solano has whipped up a batch of his delectable bacon-washed bourbon recently. Then run—don’t walk!—to try it neat or in bourbon-loving cocktails such as the classic Manhattan or the Maple Leaf.

After nearly two years of tinkering, Solano has finalized his own preferred method for infusing whiskey with bacon grease. Sound gross? It shouldn’t—it might be how your perfume or cologne was made, by infusing alcohol with a fat. The flavor takes, but when the fat is skimmed, what’s left behind is not pork flavor per se but a spirit imbued with all the things bacon is: salty, buttery, savory—umami. Hey, Max, pass the bacon!

  • 3 ounces house-made bacon fat-washed and infused Baker’s Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Cinzano sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Old-Fashioned Aromatic bitters
  • House-made brandy and bourbon cherry (or Luxardo maraschino cherry) for garnish

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, stir for 15 to 20 seconds, and strain the contents into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandy and bourbon cherry.

Max Solano’s Bacon-Washed Bourbon

Delmonico mixologist/bar manager Max Solano says: “The following process has been tested against other recommended fat-washing procedures from well-respected mixologists, but this yields the best and most balanced results. The bacon fat lends the flavor, but not enough aroma or spice, and, that is why the actual bacon pieces are introduced. Aroma and flavor are both vital components for balance and maximum sensory enjoyment.”

For a 750ml bottle, fry one pound of smoked bacon (approximately 12 to 14 thick slices. Separate the grease (about 4 to 4 ½ ounces) from the bacon and let the grease cool for several minutes. Before the grease begins to harden, combine the bourbon and the bacon grease in a narrow plastic container with a screw top (called a store ‘n pour). Agitate the mix by shaking it and then let it sit for four to eight hours or until the fat has coagulated and separated. Carefully scrape off the top layer of fat and discard it. Next, add three to four broken up slices of bacon into the mix and agitate it once again. Place immediately in the freezer and let it sit for another eight to 16 hours. Remove from the freezer—the remaining fat should have coagulated—and pass it through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to collect the remaining fat and bacon. Lastly, the remaining bourbon mix should be passed through multiple coffee filters to ensure that all particles and sediment have been collected. Pour into a fresh bottle for easy pouring. Keep it at room temperature for maximized taste and aroma.

(Note: For 1 liter of bourbon you will be using 1 ⅓ packages of bacon, which will yield 5.2 to 5.4 ounces of grease and maybe an extra slice of bacon. Yum—you can never have too much bacon!)